Providing Medical Assistance in Dying within a Home Palliative Care Program in Toronto, Canada: An Observational Study of the First Year of Experience
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BACKGROUND: Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was legalized in Canada in June 2016. There are no documented experiences of MAiD provision within a home palliative care program. The majority of palliative care physicians in Canada object to MAiD. As one of the largest home-based palliative care providers in Canada, the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care (TLCPC) developed processes to implement MAiD provision within a home palliative care team with diverse attitudes toward MAiD. OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the feasibility of providing MAiD within a home palliative care setting and describe the population that received MAiD in the first year of legalization. DESIGN: A retrospective chart review identified patients who received or were assessed for MAiD and had a known outcome between June 17, 2016 and June 30, 2017. SETTING/SUBJECTS: Patients receiving home-based palliative care. MEASUREMENTS: Data extracted included age, gender, primary diagnosis, length of time receiving home-based palliative care, and final clinical outcome. RESULTS: Of the 45 patients who were assessed for MAiD, 27 (60%) received MAiD and 18 (40%) did not. The mean age was 74 (range 20-95), 24 (53%) were male, and 33 (73%) had cancer as a primary diagnosis. These 27 patients represent 1.2% of our total patient population during this time period. CONCLUSIONS: MAiD was accessed by 1.2% of the patients within a home palliative care center in the first year of legalization. Patient demographics were consistent with those documented elsewhere. The TLCPC process accommodates the diverse viewpoints of clinicians and emphasizes continuity of palliative care provision.
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